Childhood burns make football easier for Purdue CB Josh Johnson


Every NFL draft brings to our attention players with compelling personal stories.

The most compelling one we’ve seen so far this year belongs to Purdue cornerback Josh Johnson, as told by Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

When Johnson was five years old, Johnson and his brother (Massachussetts defensive back Trey Dudley-Giles) collided with their uncle, who was carrying a pot of boiling water.  Johnson pushed his brother from the path of the water, and Johnson suffered third-degree burns on 35-percent of his body.

With severe burns on his side, thigh, and back, Johnson spent more than three weeks in the hospital.  Johnson and his family were told that Johnson wouldn’t walk again.

“You’re telling me I’ll never be able to play or never be able to walk again?” Johnson said.  “I can’t play baseball, I can’t play football, I can’t run around with my friends, so I was upset.”

Within a year, he was playing football and baseball.  And the memories of what he dealt with help him now.

“It just always made me feel like I can overcome anything,” Johnson said.  “Playing football in front of thousands and thousands of fans, I’m never nervous.  I just feel like it’s something I have to overcome again.”

The experience has also given Johnson great perspective.

“If I ever go through tough times, I always remember I’ve had a worse day,” Johnson said.  “If there was a day I had to do conditioning, I always knew I had a worse day than this.  It can’t be that bad.  I can overcome it.  So it’s really just a mind thing.  And if you have that mind, it really doesn’t matter.  You just go out there and grind.”

Johnson, who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.65 seconds at the Scouting Combine, is regarded as a mid-to-late-round draft pick.  Regardless of where he’s drafted, he has been through a lot tougher challenges than the ones he’ll be facing in the NFL.

9 responses to “Childhood burns make football easier for Purdue CB Josh Johnson

  1. I’d love to meet the doctor who tells a family that a 5 yr old that suffered burns from boiling water will never walk again.

  2. I want this guy on my Packers. We lack toughness. We need an infusion of toughness ASAP. This guy looks like a 20 cc shot of toughness right to the heart of a team.

  3. Nice story but how would getting boiling water on you keep you from walking ever again? Was their pediatrician Dr. Nick Riviera?

  4. shieldsisland37 says:
    Mar 3, 2013 11:31 PM

    “I want this guy on my Packers. We lack toughness. We need an infusion of toughness ASAP. This guy looks like a 20 cc shot of toughness right to the heart of a team.”

    he was 5 and he got burned with hot water, ok he’s a tough kid. Its 20 years later.

    Seems pretty desperate to covet a football player for a situation like this, but then again you’re a Packer fan and are from a lower tier of intelligence.

  5. The severity of the burns and the area that they were in would have a horrible impact on his skin. It would be burned and as a result made so tight that the simple motion of stretching your leg to tap a step could be made impossible and at the very least would be excoriatingly painful.

  6. The title of this article is pretty misleading. I was under the impression that he experienced some burns that caused him to be more aerodynamic, have softer hands, etc.

  7. The boiled water could have made it impossible for him to walk for the same reason you boil someone to kill them. Heat has devastating effects on organisms.

    Did you guys even pay attention in science class?

  8. Third degree burns entail charring of flesh. Boiling water, sever blistering and possible life long damage yes. Story sounds embellished abit by either the family to make his sound heroic or the media who is always looking to deify someone prior to exposing the hooker/drug/nine babies-10 mothers story.

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